British Columbia is bountiful with wild ingredients. Finding them requires a bit of guidance and skill; honouring and making the most of them is another thing altogether…
Here are four publications (available for purchase or pre-order) that we badly want in our home library – from as many incredible women who have, respectively, worked to cultivate, master and share their knowledge with lovers of food, nature, and books alike:
Together at SoBo
At SoBo restaurant, Chef Lisa Ahier’s beautiful, simple and honest food celebrates the best of West Coast ingredients with reverence, but also with approachability. Ahier’s latest cookbook, Together at SoBo, once again uses food to tell the story of a place and a community – specifically, Tofino. Expect profiles of local foragers, fishers and farmers, breathtaking photos (by Tofino photographer, Jeremy Koreski), and a writing ‘assist’ from celebrated Canadian writer and poet, Susan Musgrave. Impressive for its merits as a compilation of talent on its own, the most compelling reason to add Together at SoBo to your home library is the fact that you’ll actually use it to cook. Plus, this summer (2023) is SoBo’s last season of operation… If you’ve ever been, you understand the significance of preserving and recreating a little piece of the restaurant at home. If you haven’t been, then now is the time. The second edition in SoBo’s cookbook series drops on Thursday, May 9th, 2023. Preorder HERE.
The Science and Superpowers of Seaweed
May also sees the publication of Pacific Northwest-based seaweed harvester, Amanda Swinimer’s The Science and Superpowers of Seaweed. This family-friendly book is packed with fun facts about animals, ecosystems and marine plants for curious young minds. From Harbour Publishing: “Young readers will be delighted to learn about the wonderful, watery world of seaweed, where emerald-green kelp forests grow as tall as trees and rainbow seaweeds shimmer like gemstones in the sunlight. Seaweed can be fun too, providing tasty snacks like nori crisps and cool things to do: hunt for dead man’s fingers to squeeze like a squirt gun, have a popping contest with rockweed or make seaweed art.” Double down by purchasing Swinimer’s first book, The Science & Spirit of Seaweed: Discovering Food, Medicine and Purpose in the Kelp Forests of the Pacific Northwest (aka the adult version of Superpowers of Seaweed). It’s a great resource for curious beachcombers, foragers, home cooks and chefs alike. Order HERE.
The Coastal Forager’s Cookbook
Seasoned forager and founder of Swallow Tail Supper Club, Robin Kort, is set to release her new cookbook, called The Coastal Forager’s Cookbook: Feasting Wild in the Pacific Northwest, into the wild later this spring (June 6th, 2023). Kort’s approach to cooking – a blend of ‘simplicity and experimentation’ – is an approach that teaches us to work with ingredients rather that make the ingredients work for us. Chapters, which are organized around seasons, offer a collection of 40 recipes all featuring ingredients foraged from the Pacific Northwest coast (think Halibut with Fermented Birch; Wild Mushroom Paté; Braised Burdock Root Congee and Evergreen Ice Cream.) Kort also provides tips on plant identification, preparation and guidance for foraging in a sustainable way. Preorder HERE.
Held by the Land
This past March (2023) marked the publication of Held by the Land: A Guide to Indigenous Plants for Wellness (Wellfleet Press), the latest book by ethnobotanist, Squamish Nation member and founder of Skwalwen Botanicals, Leigh Joseph (for more background on Joseph, check out our 2019 Vancouverites interview with her here). Joseph’s talent for synthesizing the complex world of botany and the traditional knowledge of plants as food and medicine is impressive in its thoroughness. Not only does Held by the Land teach the reader how to responsibly harvest herbs and plants, as well as methods for preparing and applying them as medicine, and how to best use these plants for health and nutrition – it’s also a comprehensive guide to understanding, respecting and connecting to the environment we inhabit. Order HERE.